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September 17, 2011
Final Cut Pro XVideo Editing

FCPX Bug? Best Practices for Using External Hard Drives with Final Cut Pro X

Many FCPX users are experiencing troubles when attempting to use external hard drives in Final Cut Pro X.  Apple’s Time Machine backups may be the cause of this problem.

As we’ve discussed in great length here on the blog, Apple has some definite kinks to work out of Final Cut Pro X.  Version 1.0 applications are not without their bugs..and this one seems to be effecting a large number of FCPX users.

Many editors have noted that when they launch FCPX their external drive(s) will appear in the Events Library or Project Library and then quickly disappear.

Obviously, it’s imperative that you can store projects and media on external devices for use in Final Cut Pro X.  So, here’s the scoop for getting your external drive to “play well” with FCPX….

For many users it appears the issue has to do with using the same drive for storing media as they do for Time Machine backups (Apple’s computer backup solution).  You cannot have time machine backups on your hard drive if you intend to use it in FCPX. For whatever reason, FCPX seems to be ignoring drives that have Time Machine backup archives on them.  If you’re experiencing this issue it may be as simple as trashing the backups and trying again, however others have reported the need to reformat or simply get a new drive.

FCPX power user Andy Nick offered up some other suggestions over on the Apple discussion forums that may also increase your success of using hard drives in FCPX:

  • The drive you use for events and projects must be formatted either ‘Mac OS Extended’, or ‘Mac OS Extended (journaled)’. You can modify the formatting of your disc through the Disk Utility application (included on all Macs).
  • Your drive should be Firewire (not USB).
  • You cannot have the same projects and/or events on two mounted drives.  If so, FCP X will ignore one drive.
  • Projects/events must reside in the root of the drive (not within another folder).

It’s common practice (and quite logical) to store large amounts of video media and supporting edit files on external devices. It’s imperative that Apple address this issue in an update to FCPX. Until then, follow these tips to most successfully use external hard drives with Final Cut Pro X!

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  • http://YourSite(Optional) Winston

    The best practices are great. In addition to that, if your disks and projects disappear, identify any files (not FCP files) that we’re created since the disappearing act and relocate them to a drive that does not have FCPX projects on it.

  • Donald Cherry

    Got a MacBook Air I will be taking with me to do a video shoot away from home. No firewire ports, so can I use USB to capture/archive the video in the field?

  • Becks

    Can you elaborate what you mean by “Projects/events must reside in the root of the drive (not within another folder)”. You mean there can’t be any folder in the drive and events and projects are just scattered in the drive? Or did you mean they have to be in the same folder?

    • Ryan

      When you create an event or project in FCPX it creates a FCP Events AND a FCP Projects folder on your hard drive. These have to be on the root level of the drive, meaning you cannot put them into another folder. FCPX will do the project and event management from within those folders.

      • Jerome Bertrand

        This is very clear but: can I have FCPX create FCP Events AND FCP Projects folder on my external hard disk? (I used to just do this with FCP 7 and a USB HD, work slower than normal due to throughput but fine)

  • Data Recovery Services

    I need little more spotlight because I am getting confused with the recent requirements.

  • Jonathan

    Somewhat following Winston’s advice, I had to create a folder called “other” to put any other folders on my external disk in.  Magic…

  • Austin J. Nystrom

    I had to get a new external hard drive because my last one “broke”. I transferred all of my files onto the new one, but I can’t get FCPX to acknowledge my new drive. Is there a way to fix this?

  • Bob

    Im having this problem but it is not being caused by any of the things you list unless Im missing something. Ive got a MBP 2009 and Mac OSX formatted Lacie external, I have yet do even be able to start a project as the Lacie disappears. And my Time Machine, obviously separate from my Lacie is turned off. Advice?

  • Kathleen

    Do you know if the 10.0.7 update resolved this issue re: external hard drives and Time Machine back-ups on the same drive?

    • Danny Greer

      Thx for letting us know Kathleen! I didn’t see that when 10.0.7 was released.

      • Kathleen

        Thanks for getting back to me Danny. I ran a test after posting my question and the bug still exists. FCP X was not able to recognize my project files when stored on the same drive as my Time Machine back up under 10.0.7.

  • Martyn Barnes

    Eighteen months on, and I encounter this site because I have the same problem. Great software Apple, and well addressed bug fixing… NOT.

  • Billy McCloskey

    Here’s what I did to get FCPX to recognize my Time Machine drive.

    1. Turn off Time Machine in the Time Machine preferences; I also removed my Time Machine drive from the Select Disk… section of the Time Machine preferences.

    2. From a Terminal, using sudo, rename the backup folder on the Time Machine volume to something other than it’s default name. You have to sudo it because root owns this folder, and the ACL prevents pretty much everyone else from doing anything to the Backups.backupdb folder. The command sequence for the whole thing follows the last step.

    3. Use FCPX, and the Time Machine volume should show up in the Events and Projects sections, et. al.

    4. When through with FCPX, perform the opposite of step 2 i.e. rename the backup folder to its proper name.

    5. Select a disk via Select Disk… in the Time Machine preferences.

    Time machine should be active again. Makes sense. Time Machine and FCPX shouldn’t be banging on the same drive at the same time. Here are the command line steps to perform:

    # Make sure Time Machine turned off as in Step 1.

    # Step 2 commands:
    cd /Volumes/Time Machine/
    sudo mv Backups.backupdb Backups.backupdb-
    # Type your password.

    # Use FCPX, and Time Machine volume is available as in Step 3.

    # Step 4 commands:
    sudo mv Backups.backupdb- Backups.backupdb

    # Turn back on Time Machine as in Step 5.

    If someone writes a script to do this, please send a copy to [email protected]


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